Jonathan Byrd is a bred-in-the-bone North Carolinian, son of a preacher man and piano-playing mother, a Navy veteran, and a songwriter whose lean, closely observed songs are creating a stir in folk and roots music circles.

He and the Pickup Cowboys, who Byrd calls his “chamber twang” band, are currently on tour, with a stop scheduled at White Horse Black Mountain on Friday, Dec. 2.

Following his Navy hitch, Byrd returned home to play in Virginia Beach rock bands. But while attending an old-time fiddle festival, his imagination was captured by the directness and uncompromising attitude of Southern traditional songs. He started incorporating rootsier sounds into the foundation of his own songs, stark, sharp vignettes telling complex stories with wry humor and original imagery. After 10 years of touring and seven highly praised albums, Byrd is one of the finest and most buzzed-about singer-songwriters on the scene.

Byrd is fine with being labelled a folk singer. But his vision of the genre embraces Appalachian, country, old-time music and rock ’n’ roll stylings, delivered in a cowboy hat and boots rather than Birkenstocks. Although he’s Carolina to the core, The Lone Star State and its bumper crop of great songwriters have also shaped his output and sound.

A spanglin' twangler


Who: Jonathan Byrd

When: 8 p.m. Dec. 2

Where: White Horse Black Mountain

Cost: $12 advance, $15 door


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